Camping 2007

This year, the monsoons started a month late, and should be over by now. An old farm boy like me should have figured out that the monsoons would last a month longer than usual. But it is the three week school vacation. Urchins were begging for action. What better action than four days camping out in the Nongbualampoo mountains? A couple years ago, a retired lawyer gave me money to build a big pavilion/kitchen on the spacious grounds of St. Eileens church; plus 12 toilets and two bath houses. I also built a big cement water reservoir behind the church to catch rain water.

Thursday, my 5 adult workers took the six wheeler and tents, and a freezer and a generator and lights to St. Eileens. When the Great Unwashed, their surly handlers and I arrived on Friday, things looked perfect. The grass was green; trees growing, lovely flowers. It was hot and humid, but not unduly so for this time of year. Kids set up their tents meticulously, arranged their gear, played games; showered and had a huge supper. I retired to the 6 x 6 yard rectory, About 8:30 PM, thunder began to boom in the distance followed by long drawn out "Ohhh's" from the kids. Next, lightning split the skies, a huge wind came in, and then curtains of rain swept across the grounds. Kids howled and yowled as tents collapsed on them, and soon they abandoned the tents and tore off for the church. The adults had already pitched the pews outside and the runts scampered in with their possessions to sleep in long, but dry lines. Older boys and girls, plus 4 young women volunteers from Illinois and Alaska , opted to weather it out in their tents.

Dawn revealed kids wringing out towels and bedding; fighting over who wet bedding during the night, and the church smelled like the men's room at the Whistling Pig saloon. A big breakfast and a warm sun soon brightened them up. For the older girls, the blame game was on me, while the older boys thought it a stroke of genius to have such a great time camping. The wee ones loved it and wanted to stay, but the staff decided to break camp and head for the Mekong in the evening. For me, I offered Mass for the parish and kids, and left for Don Wai before the lunch party got organized. We will try again over New Year's! With my luck, Thailand might then see its first snow!

Fr. Mike

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